You probably already know stress can negatively affect your physical and mental health. But did you know that this also applies to your menstrual cycle?
How Does Stress Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?
Cortisol is a hormone that our adrenal glands release when we are under stress. This adrenal response has played a significant role in our evolution since cortisol primes our bodies for a “fight-or-flight” response. Cortisol puts our bodies into “survival mode” in various ways. For example, it accelerates our breathing and heart rate. It also guides blood flow to the muscles.
Additionally, cortisol affects the hypothalamus, instructing it to stop producing the hormones that commence the menstrual cycle. In our evolutionary past, this made sense, since it protected women when their bodies could not support a healthy pregnancy.
What Menstrual Changes Can Stress Cause?
High stress levels can affect the length of a person’s menstrual cycle and the symptoms they experience during their period. Here are a few menstrual changes you might notice if you are constantly under stress:
- A missed period
- A period that lasts longer than usual
- An early period
- A delayed period
- A more painful period
- Worse PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, nausea and weight changes
Tips to Manage Stress Effectively
Reducing cortisol levels through stress management benefits mental and physical health. Some effective strategies to manage stress include:
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat healthy food
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Avoid using drugs/substances
- Have a regular exercise routine
- Practice daily stretching exercises
- Practice mindfulness and meditation techniques
- Take breaks from news stories
- Seek counseling
Do You Have Issues with Your Menstrual Cycle?
Hormonal birth control is often suggested as a way to lessen heavy periods. At FEM Women’s Wellness, we provide cutting-edge treatments for excessive menstrual flow and irregular periods.
If you have irregular periods or severe cramps and are not pregnant, please visit our GYN specialists at our facility in the Reno and Lake Tahoe, NV, area as soon as possible. While stress may be to blame, these symptoms can also signify other health issues. Contact us today to book an appointment to discuss treatment options.